Otto E. Nickerson interview with Tales of Cape Cod, September 22, 1977.
Mr. Nickerson was born in Eastham in 1896. His father was a selectman of Eastham and he has 10-11 generations of Cape relatives. His grandmother was a Mayflower descendent. He recalls working in cranberry bogs as a teenager and describes the use of cedar swamps to create and develop cranberries. He describes the development and care of a cranberry bog. He remembers riding on school barges (horse drawn wagons) to get to elementary school. There would be straw on the wagon floor to keep your feet warm in the winter. Mr. Nickerson took the train from Eastham to Harwich every week day to attend high school at Brooks Academy. He had two years of high school and left to work for a year. His sister, a student at the Hyannis Normal School persuaded him to take the entrance exams and become a teacher. He received his teaching certificate and began teaching middle school students in Eastham. From Eastham his taught in Andover and Newton. He came back to teach in Eastham in 1924 and taught 6th 7th and eighth graders. Mr. Nickerson worked at summer camps between school years. He recalls his jobs at Quansett, Lake Farm and Camp Farley. He remembers the wreck of the Onadago and witnessing the unloading of cargo from the ship. The first car he rode in was a Buick Roadster which could travel at 20 miles per hour. The roads were not paved and you would often get stuck or have a flat. People passing would shout get a horse, get a horse! He recalls a fellow teacher had an expression “look out the wind is east today” meaning that to be careful today because things are likely to go badly. His first car was a Model T with rubber tires that were frequently going flat on the sandy and rocky travel lanes. Mr. Nickerson describes his hobby of raising and selling squab.
The Tales of Cape Cod Oral History Collection is housed at the William Brewster Nickerson Archives in the Wilkens Library at Cape Cod Community College in West Barnstable, Massachusetts. For more information about the collection, please contact the Nickerson Archives, http://www.nickersonarchives.org/.